Open-source Firefox OS takes aim at Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android

)”A new Firefox operating system for mobile devices is set for a July release after winning the backing of 13 wireless service providers around the globe, including Spain’s Telefonica, China Unicom and America Movil,” Alexei Oreskovic reports for Reuters. “Mozilla is betting there’s room for a software developer-friendly mobile platform alongside Apple’s and Google’s Android, which together power the majority of mobile devices on the planet.”

“The new software is based on open Web standards and is capable of operating on devices with much lower hardware requirements than today’s existing crop of smarpthones, according to Mozilla,” Oreskovic reports. “Because the Firefox OS is open-source and Web-based, third-party developers will be free to sell mobile applications without needing to share revenue with Apple or Google… Mozilla will showcase some of the first hardware devices based on that software at the Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona this week. Among the brands that have signed on to make devices based on Firefox OS are South Korea’s LG, China’s ZTE and Huawei.”

“Unlike Google and Apple’s operating systems, which are built from proprietary technology, Firefox OS uses the HTML5 standard that Web services are built with. That means anyone familiar with Web programming can create Firefox OS apps,” Oreskovic reports. “Whether a smartphone built on Web standards can deliver the kind of performance that consumers expect remains to be seen. Facebook famously stopped using HTML5 to develop its iPhone app last year, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg saying the technology couldn’t deliver acceptable quality and calling a decision to use HTML5 for its app one of Facebook’s ‘biggest mistakes.'”

Read more in the full article here.

26 Comments

    1. A gentle breeze can cause Apple’s stock to drop. This announcement offers very little harm to Apple’s iOS ecosystem. It sounds like another OS that will make very little money for developers.

  1. “Unlike Apple and Google’s operating systems, which are built from proprietary technology..”

    They’ve got that right. Google’s is built from Apple’s proprietary technology.

    1. The Ubuntu Mobile demo was pretty impressive. I still wonder how would it work usability wise, but they are putting a lot of effort in user experience and industrial design. They are the first I see since Apple. In fact, the Ubuntu desktop OS is not half bad.

      Android is a mess. It’s awful to use. The keyboard and text editing is a pain to use. Apple really nailed it with the text input and editing.

      I really want to see REAL competition to Android and iOS. Not because I want iOS to fail, but because competition is always good, and will keep Apple on their toes.

            1. There are always exceptions to every rule, but your examples do not prove otherwise. The switch to Intel was not innovation, but a direct response to the failure of the PowerPC roadmap. And before Steve Jobs returned to Apple, there were no visionaries driving them forward, only competition. Now that he’s gone, we are lucky to be left in the care of some very brilliant people, but even under Steve’s care, Apple responded to the market in their existing product lineup.

              iOS 6 is a far cry from version 1.0 and to say that Google and Android haven’t been responsible for some of those improvements is foolish.

              Let me reiterate: I’m not saying that innovation doesn’t exist without competition, but competition will always accelerate innovation. Show me definitive proof otherwise, and I’ll eat my words.

            2. “but competition will always accelerate innovation”

              How about “eat your shorts”? 🙂

              – cell companies, all of which have convoluted, complex rip-off plans.
              – cell phones before Apple. Any company could have introduced at least some parts of what Apple did. Instead, all cell phones were extremely limited, clunky, etc. The iPhone wasn’t like a Ferrari compared to a Model T: it was like a Ferrari compared to walking.
              – cell phones after Apple. Let’s admit it. Almost all other smartphones look extremely similar to an iPhone, in physical appearance, in OS appearance and in function.
              – Microscum Winblows. The competition of Apple and Linux did nothing to get Winblows out of its cesspool of spaghetti code, virus vulnerability and constant crashing.
              – Microscum Winblows. File, Edit, View etc. “Recycling Bin” – sheesh! They couldn’t even make A LITTLE effort to make it not a totally obvious rip-off.
              – Netscape. Didn’t stimulate Microscum to innovation; it stimulated them to release a clunky free product.
              – The Winblows PC market. The chief innovation there was the race to the bottom that foisted barely good enough cheap plastic crap on the buying public — fooled them into joyfully participating in the “dark ages of personal computing”.

              I could go on and on.
              Would you like ketchup with those shorts or salt and vinegar?

            3. Cell companies are NOT competing. They have divvied up the market and are simply collecting their profits. The innovation in the cellular market comes from the phone manufacturers. Apple created the iPhone, forcing AT&T to change their business model, but again, the cell companies have a “shared monopoly” and therefore do not need to compete with one another. The same thing has occurred with cable internet. The companies rake in 97% profit, and so have no motivation to improve their customers’ experiences. However, if a new company entered the playing field providing a service they don’t already provide (i.e. Google Fiber for cable/Internet or Apple for cell provider), they will have to compete or die.

              Now, let’s talk about your other examples. Microsoft copied Mac OS and created Windows (it was treated as innovative for years, btw, despite being a shameless rip-off). Where has that landed them now? They are flailing in a market dominated by Apple. Their failure to innovate will be their undoing.

              Just because a company innovates, does not mean they will be successful. Netscape’s innovations were stolen by Microsoft and their monopoly ultimately protected them long enough to grind Netscape into paste.

              Just because the “most successful” company (that’s debatable, but it is, unfortunately, how many in the business world still view the Microsoft of the ’90s) failed to innovate, doesn’t mean that the market didn’t innovate as competition to Microsoft. There are many companies that created brilliant ideas and failed to gain traction against Microsoft’s behemoth nature. Apple, however, did both and continues to do so as they face competition (even if it’s actually copytition) from Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and others.

              I’m not asking you to show me examples of a company that failed to innovate. I’m asking you to show me a market where competition exists and innovation does not. Your best example was cellular providers, but I will still argue that competition does NOT exist in that market (or rather, exists as a farce, since neither company is capable of expanding their coverage due to FCC regulations and an overburdening of the spectrum: the only way for one company to gain better coverage is to buy another).

            4. Some of us are driven to try things even when they have a high degree of possible failure. Progress is only possible when we try ‘the impossible’. Give it a try sometime and do it out of love of a better world rather than the fear of a competitor. You can do it.

          1. Can’t help but wonder how all this “driving innovation at a faster rate” matches up to the arguments about “planned obsolescence”, which someone recently decided to sue Apple for?

            1. I’m not saying ALL companies innovate when they have competition, but competition in the market breeds innovation in the market. Just because HP fails to innovate, doesn’t mean that Apple’s innovation isn’t driven farther by the “competition”. In the smartphone space, WebOS is a prime example of how Apple’s entry with the iPhone forced them to innovate. WebOS’s failure was not due to its failure to innovate, but in Palm’s failure to execute. The OS still brought some excellent ideas to the table many of which have been implemented in different fashions by both Apple and Android developers.

  2. Silverhawk is right. Who is going to regulate the apps with FireFox? This is a key action that will be missing from an open sourced environment.
    I think Mozilla and Firefox are great but the web browser operates in a regulated OS and so security is not an issue. This will not be so in a mobile OS environment where the apps could easily be used to steal information.

    1. They should be able to regulate security at the OS level, since the HTML5 framework will be sandboxed within the OS.

      I don’t know as far as regulating what kind of software is available. That might be an issue.

  3. If a version of Sony’s new high-end smartphone was offered with this OS, I’d certainly look closely at getting one; I and many others regularly use Firefox as an alternative browser on our Macs, so there’s already a large user base who trust what Mozilla do, and would probably love a smartphone with a Mozilla OS. It’s only apps that would be lacking, but I could see lots of developers choosing to create for this OS rather than Android, because of less fragmentation.

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